More older Americans are working than ever before. Of the people aged 65 and over, 17.5 percent are working, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. There are about 42.3 million people in the U.S. aged 65 and over who are not in institutions. Of these, about 7.4 million are employed.
Up until 1985, the percentage of people 65 and over who were working had been trending downward. Before 1952, more than 24 percent of this age group was working. By 1982, this has decreased to less than 12 percent.
But since 1985, the percentage has been increasin. Several factors are driving this change. First, people are living longer, and are physically able to work longer on average. Second, many people are finding that they have not saved enough money for retirement. This has been exacerbated by two brutal stock market declines within 10 years, which decreased what retirement savings people had. A tough economy also has made it harder for older people to rely on children and family for support.